MILWAUKEE--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- President Obama highlighted Master Lock in his State of the Union address Tuesday night for moving jobs back to the U.S. from China. Since mid-2010, Master Lock has brought back approximately 100 union jobs to its Milwaukee factory.
“We are honored to be mentioned by the President in such a traditional and time-honored event as the State of the Union address,” said John Heppner, president and chief executive officer, Master Lock Co. “As an American manufacturing company in business for approximately 90 years, we are proud to participate in the trend of ‘insourcing’ jobs back to the U.S.”
In his speech, the President mentioned Master Lock’s decision to bring jobs back to their unionized plant in Milwaukee, which is now running at capacity for the first time in fifteen years.
The decision to bring these jobs back was partially motivated by economic reasons related to increasingly higher labor and logistics costs in Asia, and further, ongoing labor availability challenges especially in the coastal areas of China. Advantages of moving the jobs to Milwaukee include a more competitive overall cost structure, greater control and the ability to provide better service to customers – in addition to the overall economic benefit to the company’s home state of Wisconsin. According to Heppner, Master Lock would like to bring more jobs back from overseas should the underlying economics support the move.
Earlier this month, Heppner participated in the “Insourcing American Jobs” forum at the White House, in which he and other business leaders met with President Obama and Vice President Biden to discuss the insourcing trend and offer input on how to encourage businesses to invest in America. Heppner stressed two key challenges that he recommends government and business officials address to continue the insourcing of jobs:
- 1. Improve access to skilled labor in North America. “The number of young people exposed to skilled labor trades through education or family and friends is declining while our current skilled labor workforce is aging,” Heppner said. “At Master Lock, we partner with trade schools and other educational institutions to help inspire young workers to choose careers in skilled labor. We encourage our government and other businesses to engage with these organizations and invest in training future generations in skilled labor careers.”
Master Lock has established partnerships with local technical colleges and universities to help them improve their recruiting and curriculum development to encourage students to train for skilled labor jobs.
- 2. Innovate the supply chain structure in North America. “Leveraging our expertise in automation and lean manufacturing principles, we will continue to explore opportunities to improve efficiencies and productivity, resulting in additional skilled labor jobs in the future,” Heppner said.
“Whether through the State of the Union address or other means, we are happy that the issue of manufacturing in the U.S. is being highlighted, and we support and will continue to participate in meaningful dialogue to help improve the climate for manufacturing in this country,” Heppner said. “Much more needs to be done, and we look forward to engaging with the government, educational institutions and fellow businesses in the future.”